Appointed Chiefs

Appointed by the President, these principal chiefs, many holding the title for only a single day, signed documents and performed other pro forma duties as required by the federal government.


A Pre-1839 Constitution Civil Chief

Black Coat

The Second Chief of the Western Cherokee, or Old Settlers. He was a delegate in charge of the Cherokees who went to Washington with Sam Hosutin in December 1831.

Charles Thompson

Principal Chief 1875 - 1879

Chiefs of the Early Times

These Chiefs served in the Cherokee Nation East. Historically, there were tribal town chiefs, and then Principal Chiefs whose jurisdiction encompassed all tribal towns and districts. The following were considered Principal Chiefs.

Civil War Era Chiefs

Both factions of the Cherokee Nation attempted to conduct business during the War Between the States. Here's the men who led them.

Constitutional Chiefs of the Cherokee Nation

A listing of Cherokee Nation Principal Chiefs from The Trail of Tears era until today, as voted by the Cherokee People.

Dennis W. Bushyhead

Principal Chief 1879 - 1887

George Lowery

An influential man, both before and after the Removal. Assistant Chief under John Ross' administration.

Joel B. Mayes

Principal Chief 1887 - 1891

John Jolly

An Old Setter Chief.

John Ross

Principal Chief under the Cherokee Nation Constitution of 1839, 1839 - 1866

Joseph Vann

The first Assistant Chief of the Cherokee Nation's 1839 constitution.

Letter from John Ross

Letter from John Ross, Principal Chief Executive DepartmentTahlequah, Nov. 18th, 1844

Lewis Downing

Principal Chief 1867 - 1872

Old Settler Chiefs

A list of the Principal Chiefs of the Western Cherokee, before the Constitution of 1839.

Ross Swimmer

Principal Chief 1975 - 1985

Samuel H. Mayes

Principal Chief 1895 - 1899

Thomas Buffington

Principal Chief 1899 - 1903

William C. Rogers

Principal Chief 1903 - 1907

William P. Ross

Principal Chief 1866 - 67 and 1872 - 1875

Wilma P. Mankiller

Principal Chief 1985 - 1995